Installation made easy
Right out of the box, the TS-421 is a little different from earlier Qnap NAS solutions. Gone are the installation CDs and lengthy manuals. Instead, the user is given a quick setup flyer that briefly mentions three steps; install the hard drives; connect the Qnap NAS to the same network as your PC and power on; go to the website http://start.qnap.com.
The oldies in the office would still like to see Qnap include physical media for offline installations, but hey, anyone setting up a £400 NAS is likely to have an Internet connection, and the new setup is particularly well streamlined. The website simply asks the user to identify their NAS model, install any available hard drives, power the unit on and download the hyperlinked Qfinder utility.
As you might have guessed, the latest Qfinder utility is also a marked improvement over earlier generations. Walking the user through the installation step-by-step, the Manual Setup begins by asking the administrator to choose a server name, password and disk configuration. All straightforward stuff, but now presented in a very inviting manner - even those with little-to-no networking experience should be able to get the TS-421 up and running in under 30 minutes.
The next steps - IP configuration and firmware update - are self-explanatory, and again novice users can quite happily have both set to automatic. Doing so on the latter helps keep the system up to date, with our review sample automatically upgrading from firmware version 3.8.2 to 4.0.0.
And that, in a nutshell, is about it. We'd like to see Qnap add date and time configuration into the wizard - as opposed to having to set your time zone later on - but keeping things as simple as possible appears to be the priority. Once you've double checked your configuration, the Qnap Wizard updates the unit firmware, initialises your chosen settings, creates the RAID array and restarts the unit ready for use. The TS-421 took less than 30 minutes to become available as a network server, though of course our 4TB RAID 5 array continued to synchronise beyond the initial setup - taking roughly eight hours to complete.